[b-hebrew] Relevance Theory & Hebrew Semantics

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Tue Aug 17 15:09:42 EDT 2004

On 17/08/2004 19:19, C. Stirling Bartholomew wrote:

> ...
>In the OT wisdom literature we run into similar problems. The book of
>Ecclesiastes includes discourse units which seem to defy the notion of
>semantic cohesion. 
>In evaluating the validity of any theoretical framework the first step is to
>expose weaknesses in the presuppositions. The axiom of semantic cohesion
>looks like a weakness in RT.

The axiom is basically that the text is intended to make sense, to 
communicate a message, at least to its target audience, in other words 
that it is not a random collection of words. If we abandon this axiom we 
may as well abandon any attempt to understand the text, because it is 

Of course we may not know who the target audience is, and for that and 
other reasons we may be unable to recover the message. But that is not a 
fault in the method, but a lack in our evidence in particular cases.

Some texts like Ecclesiastes, and parts of Proverbs, may be made up of a 
separate short discourses thrown together with no real cohesion. But at 
least we can assume that each such discourse is intended to make sense.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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